When involved in instances of medical negligence, plaintiffs often experience a number of physical, emotional, and financial hardships as a result of sustained injuries. These injuries often restrict the plaintiff’s ability to perform work. As a result, loss of wages may occur. Medical negligence lawsuits can help to recover financial compensation for these lost wages and other forms of loss.
Examples of Lost Wages
Plaintiffs are eligible to receive financial compensation for lost wages in medical negligence cases where it is proven that the defendant’s actions led to harm that ultimately affected the plaintiff’s ability to earn the same income through working. The plaintiff may also sustain permanent injuries that affect his or her ability to earn the same future wages as he or she did before the medical negligence took place. This form of damages is often referred to as loss of earning capacity.
Lost Wages for Missed Work
When injured, a plaintiff may be required to take time off from work in order to recover from injuries caused by the defendant’s medical negligence. For example, consider a patient who develops a severe infection due to medical negligence after a routine birthmark removal surgery of a birthmark on the finger.
If the infection requires the patient to be hospitalized or incapacitated for longer than the birthmark’s healing process, the patient will be unable to attend work. This loss of wages is directly caused by the physician’s negligence. In the patient’s case, a lost wage claim may be applicable.
Loss of Earning Capacity
Lost wages damages may also apply to future earnings. In the birthmark infection scenario above, this may apply in a case where the patient’s infection was so severe that the finger required amputation. If the amputation affects the patient’s ability to work in the future, loss of earning capacity damages may be awarded to the plaintiff on behalf of the defending physician who caused the injury and the long-term damage.
Since future earning capacity is an estimate as opposed to clearly defined amounts, determining loss of earning capacity can be more complex. In order to determine the financial compensation that the plaintiff is entitled to, a number of factors must be considered.
Economic Damages for Medical Negligence
In a medical negligence lawsuit, there are different categories of damages that the plaintiff can receive. Lost wages fall under a category called economic damages, or special damages. As indicated by the term, economic damages provide compensation for economic losses suffered by plaintiffs. Economic losses are measurable costs, such as lost wages, medical bills, and life care expenses.
Other Types of Damages
Other types of damages include non-economic and punitive damages. Non-economic damages are subjective losses experienced by the plaintiff. Non-economic damages can compensate plaintiffs for occurrences such as physical harm, mental and emotional anguish, pain and suffering, and loss of companionship. Punitive damages act as the court’s method of deterring or penalizing the defendant for wrongful behavior. Punitive damages also intend to deter others from acting similarly.
Florida’s Economic Loss Rule
Florida’s economic loss rule was put in place to prevent lawsuits when the plaintiff only wishes to recover economic damages as opposed to non-economic damages, punitive damages, or a combination of the three. Essentially, the rule acts to limit lawsuits against parties that are not responsible for personal harm, property damage, and other types of damages that do not fall under the economic loss category. Until recently, Florida’s Economic Loss Rule primarily affected contractual agreements and product liability.
Florida Economic Loss Rule Amendment
In early 2013, the Florida Supreme Court ruled on Tiara Condominium Association, Inc. v. Marsh & McLennan Companies, Inc. In this case, the Florida Supreme Court ruled that the Economic Loss Rule is limited to product liability cases. As a result of this new ruling, patients who wish to file tort suits for medical negligence and other contract breaches are no longer restricted from doing so in cases where only economic damages are sought.
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